Having followed the correspondence relating to the Sir Halley Stewart Field with interest, I feel I can assume that Bill Johnson and his confederates on the Spalding Community Campaign have little or no interest whatsoever in sport, or indeed if they would ever have become embroiled in their current campaign for ‘free for all’ access to the field had it not been for Corbo’s plans for development of the site.
If, and heaven forbid that the SCC’s plans are ultimately accepted by the Charities Commission, it would effectively be the death knell of senior non-league football being played in the town, something which has been a feature since 1920/21.
Let me explain.
Football Association rules state that any club competing in leagues of Step 5 and above on the Football Pyramid (in which Spalding United currently compete) must play within a close ground.
This would be impossible in Spalding if the Sir Halley Stewart Field was designated as an open space, ie. with no locked gates.
There are other requirements under the FA’s ground grading system which become more stringent when clubs move up through the ‘pyramid’ system. But these are not relevant to the current ongoing argument.
For those people not acquainted with the football Pyramid System, Step 5 signifies that clubs like Spalding United, who have ambitions to move to a higher level, are just five steps away from the Football League.
Mr Johnson, in his latest correspondence in this newspaper states that South Holland District Council spends £35,000 annually on the field for the football club.
I don’t consider this a fair statement.
Doesn’t he appreciate that Spalding United will pay a not insignificant fee to the council during the football season to hire the Sir Halley Stewart Field.
Should they be forced off the field then this revenue would be lost to the council.
It would be highly likely that they would have to employ a full time member of staff to oversee the site, thus putting an additional burden on taxpayers.
The implications of opening up the Sir Halley Stewart Field are considerable.
The whole structure would become open to abuse, like vandalism and theft and damage to adjacent properties and businesses, not to mention creating a new home for the vagrants currently occupying certain areas of the town.
My enquiries have revealed that on occasions evidence of drinking parties and other illicit activities have already taken place in the grandstand.
I can forsee the field becoming a no-go area for those law abiding citizens who already are afraid to walk alone in other areas of our once safe and loved town.
So I say to Mr Johnson, let commonsense prevail.